A Novel Portable Device For Gamma And Neutron Spectroscopy With Special Nuclear Material Identification
Published online: 20 January 2020
The development of new types of detectors and the increased performance of the electronics have paved the way for developing advanced systems for the measurement and identification of radioactive material that can be involved, for example, in illicit trafficking. Radioactive isotope identifiers are today commercially available. Nowadays those systems make use of inorganic scintillators as Sodium Iodide (NaI(Tl)) or, for enhanced resolution, Lanthanum Bromide (LaBr3) to identify the gamma emitters through their characteristic gamma lines. The most complete systems usually include an additional 3He proportional counter for neutron detection and counting. The performances of such devices are compliant with standards as the IEC 62327 Hand Held Instruments for the Detection and Identification of Radionuclides. This paper presents a new type of portable radioactive isotope identifier. This device, based on an organic liquid scintillator with excellent Pulse Shape Discrimination (PSD) proprieties for the simultaneous detection of gamma rays and neutrons, detects radioactive source as Special Nuclear Material (SNM), medical, industrial and Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material. The exclusive feature of this instrument is the identification of neutron sources with discrimination between fission sources (like Californium 252Cf) and alpha-n type sources (like Americium Beryllium Am-Be) from Plutonium and Uranium through an innovative dedicated algorithm. Individual thresholds for neutron and gamma counts are calculated to allow detection with 95% detection probability for a dose rate on the front face of the scintillator of at least 50 nSv/h. Alarms are triggered separately when the respective rate exceed these thresholds. The neutron source detection has also been proved in a gamma ray field up to 100 μSv/h. The electronics is equipped with two analog inputs and two high voltage power supplies in a small form factor thus becoming an enabling technology for higher performance yet portable radioactive isotope identifier devices, which can include more detectors and perform data fusion analysis. The addition of a second detector allows to detect a masked neutron source through the PSD algorithm performed by the liquid scintillator detector while the added inorganic scintillator identifies the masking gamma emitters. The inorganic scintillator allows also the calculation of Pu and U enrichment grade through characteristic gamma emission line.
Key words: Special Nuclear Material (SNM) / Uranium / Plutonium / neutron spectroscopy / homeland security
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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